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felves upon having fomewhat which Others have not, argues a great defect in that very thing we have; and fhews, that, what we efteem good, is not fo, except in Opinion and Comparifon only. This is the Cafe of Riches, and Honours, and the Rest of our Worldly Advantages. Thefe would ceafe to be remarkable, and fink very low in our Efteem; if all Mankind were partakers of them, in the fame Degree with our felves. And this, I fay, fhews, that there can be nothing, or very little of true Excellence, in that Object, which recommends it felf, not fo much from our own Plenty, as from Other Peoples Penury and Want. For, whatever is real Happiness, hath a fort of Sufficiency in it felf; and cannot depend upon fuch mean and ill-natur'd Confiderations, as the Defects, or the Misfortunes of our Brethren. These are proper Subjects for our Pity and Compaffion, but cannot be warrantable grounds of Pride and Triumph to any truly Good Man. Now the being the Mother of our Bleffed Saviour, is what all One Sex are abfolutely debarr'd from; and what all the Other Sex but One, are utterly incapable of too. And it would argue God a very strange, and partial, nay a very Cruel Being, if he fhould have created fo many Millions of Men and Women, and yet have provided fo flenderly for them, that Only One Perfon, among that infinite number, fhould be able to attain the greateft Honour and Happiness, that Human Nature could ever afpire to. But Virtue and Religious Wisdom lie open, and in common to all. Every Man, with the ordinary Affiftances of Grace, and his own faithful Endeavours, may get this Bleffing into his poffeffion. And no Man is the lefs Wife, or the lefs Holy, for Another's being fo; but finds an Addition to his own Happiness, and a fenfible Joy, in that of Others. The more diffufive this is, the greater it is; And, if it were Univerfal, it would be greater ftill. Which fhews, that this is an Happiness
rooted in the nature of the thing, not precarious and depending upon Fancy and meer Notion; that this is an Extenfive Good, fit for a Bountiful God to propofe, and worthy of a Reasonable Man to pursue.
Secondly, No other Happiness is properly Our own. We neither give, nor can continue, any thing else to our felves; but This is strictly Ours, and a Joy that no Man taketh from us. The Virtue of a Child, or of a Parent, is Ours only by Reflection; and That, but a very weak and diftant one too. The praife of it is not due to our Selves, but to Him; And they are His Excellencies, not Ours, that we please our felves with. The Image indeed comes back to us, and we take a pleafing view of it, as of our Faces in a Glafs; But neither the Light, nor the Subftance, that makes the Image, are in the Glafs it felf. This is only the Inftrument of Reflecting it back again, and contributes nothing to the Beauty of the Face. Thus all, that we can pretend to, is, that Providence hath been kind in making us fome way Inftrumental, towards the fhewing fuch Goodness to the World. But ftill we must remember, that this Goodness is not ours, but Anothers. The Enjoyments of the prefent Life are the Gifts of Fortune; And when we have them, they lie at the Mercy of every capricious Turn of Fortune, to fnatch them from us again. We did not bestow them upon our felves, and we cannot preferve them one Moment, but by the permiffion of the Donor. But Virtue and Religion are properly Ours. These are not our Fate but our Choice; the Work of our own Minds, and the Treafures of our own getting. No Circumstances, tho' never fo fortunate, can put them into our poffeffion; none tho' never fo miferable, have the power to deprive us of them. We need only be kind to our felves, and we shall certainly have them; And we must confpire against our felves, if ever we lose them. And fure that Happiness deferves
to be valued above All others, which is left at our own difpofal. So eafy to be attained, that nothing can hinder or disappoint Us in the purfuit; and fo durable and certain, that nothing can impoverish us, or cut off our enjoyment of it.
Thirdly and Laftly, The bearing and keeping of God's
1 Tim. iv. 8.
As well may we expect Brightness without Light, or Heat without Fire, as Felicity without Virtue. It is not in the Nature of the Thing, it is not in the wife Ordinance and Appointment of God. In the prefent Life, be that heareth Chrift's Matth. vii. 24, fayings, and doth them, is called the boufe 25. built upon a Rock. Because This is the only thing, that can keep fuch a one from being the Sport of Fortune, and fecure his Happiness against all the fpight and uncertainty of a dangerous and unftable World. The Winds may blow, and the Waves beat and roar, but they only break themselves; and will never be able to move, or wash him off from his firm Foundation. And, for the Next World, all our hopes turn upon this and fuch like gracious Declarations, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that fent me,
John v. 24.
bath everlasting life, and shall never come
All I fhall add, upon this Occafion, is a ferious Exhortation, That Men would learn from hence, where
their Happiness lies, and purfue it accordingly: That they would confider the Honours due to Virtue and Goodness, and fecure these to themselves. How should we despise the mean and trifling Advantages of this prefent World, in comparison of this only true and valuable one? Or, if we will ftill be fond of Greatnefs, and Wealth, and Places of Authority, let us not fuffer our Eyes to be dazled with a falfe and empty fhew, but covet that, which is fubftantial Honour. And, where this is to be had, the wife Son of Sirach hath instructed us, Among Brethren he that is chief is boEc. x. 20, 22, 24. nourable, fo are they that fear the Lord, in bis Eyes. Whether a man be rich, noble, or poor, their glory is the fear of the Lord. Great-men, and Fudges, and Potentates, fhall be honoured, yet is there none of them greater than be that feareth the Lord. If we will ftill admire a noble Descent, and value our felves upon great Families, and being Allied to Royal Blood; let us at leaft improve this Vanity, by turning our Eyes another way, and take care to contract the closest Relation to the King of Kings. For the Lord of Lords, and the fupreme Prince of Heaven and Earth hath Matth. xi. 50. faid it, that whofoever does the will of bis Father, the fame is his Brother, and Sifter, and Mother. O incomprehenfible Honour of Faith and Obedience! O Bleffed Confanguinity! To be born of God, and to bear and bring forth the Lord Jefus in our Hearts: To express his Image in every Thought, and Word, and Action; and, to be our felves conformed to him, partakers of his Holiness, and his Crown. For the being thus his Brethren, and Children of God, is no empty Honour, no fwelling founding Name, but gives a fure Title to his Royalties and Poffeffions too. For if Sons, Rom. viii. 17. then are we heirs, heirs of God, and cobeirs with Chrift: Inheritors of a Kingdom, a Kingdom not like the perishing ones, that fodazle our Eyes here upon Earth, but One unspeakably happy and full of Glory, that fadeth not away for ever in the Heavens.
The Fourth Sunday in Lent.
Rant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that We who for our evil deeds do worthily deferve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved, through our Lord and Saviour Jefus Chrift. Amen.
21. You that are fo zealous for the Law, will do well at least to
attend to the Arguments, which even the Law furnishes, for the Point I am debating.
Galat. iv. 21.
ELL me, ye that defire to be under the
22. For it is written that Abraham had two fons, the one by a bond-maid, the other by a free-swoman.
23. But be, who was of the bond-cvoman was born after the flesh; but be of the free-woman was by promife.
22, 23. Now there you find that Abraham had Two Sons, of Mothers of different Conditions; and the manner of his having them
was different. For the Bond-woman's Son was, like common Children, the Effect of natural Vigor: But the Free-woman's Son was promifed, as an extraordinary Blefling, to Perfons naturally incapable of having any.
24. Which things are an Allegory: For thefe are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendreth to Bondage, which is Agar.
25. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and anfwereth to Jerufalem which now is, and is in bondage quith her children.
24, 25. Now under this hiftorical there is a myftical meaning. For the Two Covenants are typified by thefe Two Mothers. The Law given in Sinai, a Place out of the Land of Promife, (fitly refembled by Agar, as in the Language of that Country bearing the fame Name) is fignified by Agar, whofe Children (as their Mother was) are Bond-fervants: And thus it agrees with the prefent Jerufalem on Earth, and the fervile Condition of the Jews.
26. But Jerufalem which is above, is free, which is the mother of us all.
26, 27. But the heavenly Jerufalem, refembled by Sarah, is free: From hence the other Covenant came, and this is the Mother of Chriftians every where. The Numbers of whofe Children Ifaiah forefeeing, calls upon her, notwithstanding her former Barrennefs, to rejoice in a Family, larger than others, who bore fooner, could boast of.
27. For it is written; Rejoice thou barren that beareft ; break forth and cry, thou that travaileft not, for the defolate bath many more children, than she which hath an bufband.